Gear Review: trio of tops ensure versatile hiking wardrobe

  • Aug 26, 2014
  • 518 words
  • 3 minutes
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The chainsaw-wielding man I met in the thick backwoods of New Brunswick gave me good fashion advice—though he didn’t know it at the time. He claimed that the province’s weather was so variable that it was like visiting all corners of Canada. While I can’t vouch for inland conditions, hiking along the Fundy coastline certainly proved to be a mercurial eco-zone and I can only assume that the forester I encountered would be proud of my adaptable wardrobe.

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The Saturday Trail II Long Sleeve Shirt, from Columbia Sportswear Company. (Photo: Ben Williamson)

In the three days I spent in the Appalachian foothills next to the world’s highest tides, I wore all three of my shirt layers, and was glad I did. The one that got the most wear was the Saturday Trail II Long Sleeve. Its long sleeves and sweat-wicking fabric made it perfect for hot days in the forest, and it dried fast enough that I wouldn’t get chilled when we stopped for lunch. To top it all off, it has a flattering, curve-friendly cut that transitioned stylishly for nights in town. Back home, it has become my go-to shirt for everything from comfy office attire to sauntering through farmers markets on the weekend.

When hiking along the hot beach, with sun pounding down, my sweaty self was happy for the Freeze Degree II Short Sleeve Shirt. It uses Columbia’s patented Omni-Freeze technology, which claims to use your own sweat to cool you. Of course, that’s what sweat is supposed to do. But what sets this shirt apart is the panels containing thousands of hydrophilic polymer rings that soak up your sweat and, so long as your garment isn’t skin-tight, deliver a noticeably cooler-feeling fabric back to you. The more you sweat, the more you notice the effect; I especially appreciated the shirt when I returned home and was biking hard through nearby Gatineau Park hills. But even if you’re not sweating hard, the fabric feels pleasant and soft against the skin. The longer cut also means that whether you’re biking or wearing a backpack, your lower back stays safely covered.

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The Trail-Drier™-Windbreaker-Jacket from Columbia Sportswear Company. (Photo: Ben Williamson)

Waking up on a beach is pretty amazing, even if it’s coated in thick Maritime fog. Enter the Trail Drier™ Windbreaker jacket. Windproof and rain-resistant, this jacket ensured I was dry and comfortable during breakfast, and once we’d started back into the hills, the OMNI-Wick technology kept me that way. Its active cut made it very comfortable to move freely and kept the chill off my arms during early morning runs back home. And its ultra-compactable lightness made a no-brainer to pack.

Whether you’re heading to a location with unpredictable weather or you’re simply looking for a set of tops that will carry you through spring to fall, this trio makes a good bet.


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